Tag Archives: Democracy

Where Were These People On Election Day?!

ALP’s Early Comeback

Polls are an awful thing really, because they measure results of what people allegedly think when given thoughts they wouldn’t ordinarily have by themselves on choices they didn’t formulate. If somebody told you the options for managing emissions was a ‘carbon tax’, an Emissions Trading Scheme’, ‘Direct Action’ and nothing at all, you would be led to thinking this was the be-all and end all of all solutions and answer something out of this bunch of bad choices. Not to mention the inherent hostility of the polled person who can then bag out the incumbent for their incumbency and berate the Opposition for their opposition and so on and so forth.

In that light, I can only shrug at the newest poll showing the ALP have surged ahead of the Coalition.

The graphic says it all – less than 3months since the fateful election, the current Government finds itself in a position it would lose the two-party preferred vote. It didn’t take long, and it didn’t take much for the dissatisfaction to set in. If these people had exercise a bit of forethought, they might have  avoided the Abbott government altogether. Doesn’t it make you sick?

The truly interesting thing might be this bit here:

But in a blow to the Prime Minister’s plans, more people like the supposedly ”toxic” carbon tax than his proposed replacement policy.

An Age-Nielsen poll shows little support for Tony Abbott’s proposed carbon tax replacement policy.

Just 12 per cent of voters believe Mr Abbott’s ”direct action” policy of using taxpayer funds to purchase emissions reductions from polluters, and planting trees, is the answer. That amounts to a virtual vote of no-confidence in direct action, which has support 4 percentage points lower than the 16 per cent in favour of keeping a fixed carbon price.

The Age-Nielsen poll of 1400 voters found that Australians overwhelmingly wanted to see Australia meet the nation’s commitment to cut emissions by 5 per cent by 2020 based on year 2000 levels.

While both sides of politics have committed to the minimum target, the poll shows voters prefer the policy Labor took to the last election – a switch to an internationally linked emissions trading scheme.

Fully 29 per cent nominated an ETS as the preferred mechanism to combat global warming – well ahead of ”some other policy” on 24 per cent and 11 per cent who favoured ”no policy at all”.

In other words, the only reason people want the Carbon Tax removed is so they can go to an ETS. That’s right, the only tangible reason people want the Carbon Tax gone is because they want the ETS So much for that mandate Tony Abbott’s been going on about. Listening to his coded dog-whistling you would have thought Australia’s electorate wants to go the way of the Ostrich in any discussion on trying to mitigate Climate Change.

The Drum on ABC 24 featured some Liberal Party apparatchik last Friday who wanted to tell us that the future lie in adapting to climate change, and not mitigating it. If I were a man in possession of inclinations like Elvis Presley I would have shot my TV set. instead I screamed and turned it off. It’s like some bad joke from the Easter Bloc of old that Tony Abbott got elected.

Delaying The Carbon Repeal

In another one of those election promises that is being broken by the Coalition, we have the Carbon Tax repeal. They’ve got it through the Lower House but there’s enough resistance in the Senate to shoot down the repeal. The Coalition solution is  therefore to hold off taking it to the Senate until the new Senate sits in July.

The Abbott government has scheduled two weeks of sittings, two for the Senate and one for the House of Representatives.

Usually Parliament stops for the winter break at the end of June, returning for the spring session in mid-August.

In the last 15 years federal Parliament has only sat once during July – for a single week in 2011 – which lends weight to the theory that the Abbott government has deliberately arranged this voting period for the carbon tax repeal.

Leader of the House Christopher Pyne released a schedule of sitting dates on Monday, showing the Senate sitting for a fortnight from Monday, July 7.

Mr Pyne said more sittings provided an opportunity for debate and consideration of the important bills that will come before the Parliament in 2014.

The lower house will sit for a week from Monday, July 14.

It seems the Coalition has twigged to possibility they would lose a Double Dissolution election – which is to say they had no mandate at all like they have claimed. The fact that the new poll has blunted their resolve points to the inherently opportunistic, populist and largely spineless nature of this government. Have they no shame? It appears not. Have they no dignity? No. Clearly, that’s why they need the Monarchy to drape them with some (imagined) dignity.

Christopher Pyne has been rather disruptive in other ways.

Mr Pyne told Sky News on Sunday evening that two of the states that had agreed to the Gonski reforms, Victoria and Tasmania, had never signed “final agreements” with the federal Labor government, and neither had the National Catholic Education Commission.

“That isn’t a national model, and it’s very difficult for us to implement the complicated, confused, very dense model that they came up with because of Labor’s predilection for prescription and regulation,” he said.”We want less regulation, less prescription from Canberra, and that’s what I’ll set about trying to put in place when we can do that.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused the Coalition of breaking the promise it made before the election that it was on a “unity ticket” with Labor on school funding.

“The weasel words of the government saying before an election they will look after schools and properly fund our children in the future, and … they now dial forward and say all deals are off, there were no deals.”

Well, Bill, the answer is that these people really will do and say anything to get into power, hold power and abuse power. No surprises whatsoever there.

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A Terrible Year

And It’s Only September

What can I say, Tony Abbott and the Coalition won. This is a terrible thing, but hey I’m with the guy that started this meme:

Don't Blame MeTalk about the mother of all disappointments. It reminds one of the joke about the little kid who is asked by a Latin American Generalissimo if he knows the difference between a disaster and a catastrophe.

The little kid responds, “Yes Generalissimo. A Disaster is when you and your cabinet are in a plane crash. A Catastrophe is when you survive that crash.”

Well, this election is that crash and the winning survivor is… Phoney Abbott. That’s it. I’ve decided to call him that because basically he never told his crackpot climate-change-denyin’ loonie mob to take down the ‘Ju-liar’ tag, so here’s serving up the same cold soup. From now on he is Phoney Abbott to me until he is ousted from office.

Actually, looking at how the ALP did this time, it seems like they did save the furniture so Phoney can’t claim that he has some great mandate. The ALP are with a fighting chance to come back if they can just get their house in order. Still I imagine there’s going to be quite a bit of recriminations and bickering in the days to come. Greg Combet was already winding up with a few spitballs on the ABC tonight.

I’m still stunned that the middle shifted ground back to these lousy conservatives. What idiots. I guess it’s just a case of “they know not what they do”. That’s the problem with willful ignorance – it delivers conservative governments. I guess this horrible day had to come; but did this have to be such a terrible year?

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Fear Of The Unknown Unknowns

Sometimes ‘The People’ Are Idiots

The unthinkable is about to happen. No, not World War III, but an Abbott government is about to get in if the polls are to believed. This is about as swift a turn to the right as you can get and show what ingrates and opportunists the political middle ground of this country can be. But the bit that gets me the most is that the swinging middle of the electorate is about to vote into office a decidedly sorry lot who have refused to have their costings looked at until 3 minutes to midnight in the election. If their intellectual dishonesty doesn’t stink to high heaven, their efforts in government surely will because these people are banking on doing some pretty stupid things.

A couple of days I ago, I pointed out that their policy on the internet and broadband alone should disqualify them from taking office, but close behind their idiotic NBN policy is their climate policy – their so-called Direct Action plan. I know it’s late in the game and we’re all past reading stuff, but here’s a link from Pleiades that’s worth reading: Part I & Part II. In Malcolm Turnbull’s own words:

Because most capital equipment, especially in the energy sector, has lives running into many decades, the business is going to require assurance that the government subsidy will match the life of the asset – so running well beyond 2020.

Which is why a subsidy scheme which terminates in 2020 will achieve very little….

Having the government pick projects for subsidy is a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale and there will always be a temptation for projects to be selected for their political appeal.

In short, having the government pay for emissions abatement, as opposed to the polluting industries themselves, is a slippery slope which can only result in higher taxes and more costly and less effective abatement of emissions.

Which is to say, Malcolm Turnbull is saying Direct Action can’t work. Certainly not in the way the Coalition have gone about selling it; and of course all of it suffers from the great credibility gap of Tony Abbott being an un-reformed climate sceptic global-warming denier.  There’s just no knowing how any of this Direct Action policy is going to work or if it’s even viable.

Pleiades also wanted me to point out to you that the Coalition do not have an Arts Policy. At all. Not a sausage. This is probably not surprising in that the arts community of this country is entirely, reflexively hostile to the Liberal and National parties, so if anything they probably just want to abolish all arts funding. (And I admit there’s an evil side to me that wouldn’t mind seeing that because I find the reflexive progressivism of Australia’s arts community to be pretty obnoxious. But that’s a different issue altogether!)

Even the alleged strong suit of the Liberals looks pretty crappy today. Here’s Michael Pascoe lambasting Joe Hockey yesterday after the Liberals gingerly released their costings.

After all the huffing and puffing, Hockeynomics is only proposing a $6 billion improvement in the budget’s cash bottom line over four years. In light of the past four years of hyperbolic fiscal posturing, this is genuinely astounding.

Even if you take year three and four budget projections seriously (and you really can’t, as everyone should now know), that works out to be an average improvement of $1.5 billion a year on a $400 billion budget – all of 0.375 per cent. It’s not even a rounding error. A half-decent Queensland storm can blow that away in half an hour.

By way of comparison, Tony Abbott is blowing $1.8 billion on reviving the novated lease/FBT tax lurk enjoyed by a minority of new car buyers, let alone an even smaller minority of voters. Consider the massive percentage increase in the Coalition’s budget improvement goal that could be obtained by implementing just this one tax policy based on principle and equity instead of subsidising a few salary packaging firms. Hey Joe, do the math.

After all the histrionic fuss and slanderous accusations about waste, the Coalition proposes to save a relatively speaking marginal 6billion. The way Abbott carried on for 3 years, you’d think that Australia was about to turn in to Greece (uhh, …no) or go into a Great Depression Mk. II (uh… no again); but of course it’s not like he’s got any real savings on offer and is instead proposing a largely skewered-to-the-wealthy paid maternity leave programme.

And frankly, you’d have to be pretty dense to be voting for any of these claptrap policies thought up in the isolation chamber of entitled sectionalists hoping to scare the electorate into voting for them. But that’s what really gets me. Middle Australia is saying to the pollsters that’s exactly what they’re going to do. Vote in the eminently unsafe, unhinged, reactionary monarchist, sectarian nutjob that is Tony Abbott as their Prime Minister.

I’ve been racking my brains as to who but those with expensive Private School educations, would be voting for this mob? The western suburbs of Sydney they say. But for the life of me I can’t imagine why the people in most need of support would vote in the people who are going to kick them in the hip pocket.


…the scuttlebutt has been that the polls seem to indicate 53-47 to the Coalition. Even this has been disputed by some. It turns out the polls are collected by landline, so they  skew heavily towards the retired elderly, who are in general more conservative-leaning than the young who do not bother with landlines and get about on their mobile phones. Pleiades tells me when pollsters conducted a poll that included mobile phones, it started to look more like 50-50, which is to say, a hung Parliament is once again on the cards.

Now that, would be cool because then Tony Abbott will chuck a hissy fit again and not deal, and that would leave us with another minority ALP government, just to stick it up the noses of all these idiot munchkin editors who claim stability is more important. (Only the editor of the Age had the good sense to argue in favour of the ALP based on policies; and based on policies, he had the NBN as the leading item followed by Gonski. I call that doing his job. What the hell are the other papers doing but playing cult of personality and personality politics?)

The most terrifying of them might have been the editorial on the SMH. Yes, the Sydney Morning Herald no less supports Tony Abbott. Now, I’d normally quote the most coherent part but amazingly the editorial presents very little coherence of argument about policy and mostly has knocks on how history has unfolded. Well Mr. Editor we’ve all been reading your paper and we can tell you your characterisation of the last 3years in this sorry editorial is mostly impressionistic nonsense not worthy of consideration, that somehow illogically ends up supporting Tony Abbott with a plea for stability.

Heck, Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt was ‘stable’ for 28years.  Saddam Hussein’s reign was equally stable. Muammar Gaddafi too. I don’t think stability in of itself is any good, and this is exactly the point where armchair political scientists go wrong. Niccolo Machiavelli argued in favour of a stable government, but the second condition a government had to fulfill beyond stability according to Machiavelli, was delivering the maximum benefits to the maximum number of people in the constituency. Somehow I don’t think the Liberals and Nationals are capable of the latter. So, I don’t know how we’ve come to this, but this election campaign period has exposed the editor in chief of the Sydney Morning Herald as an idiot munchkin – something I did not know until today. You sure can put that down to “you learn something new everyday”.

This election is going to be a litmus test to see how stupid people are. In future people will be able to look back and ask which way you voted. If you say you voted for the Liberals and Nationals in 2013, you will be laughed at for your stupidity.

Just don’t vote for the Coalition what ever you do.

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Fear Of The Known Unknowns

Our Own Bloody Fault John Hewson?

Good Grief Charlie Brown part II is how Tony Abbott’s Liberals are not releasing their costings until Thursday before the election. I keep thinking this is fraudulent on the part of Abbott, but John Hewson was on radio defending this bit of ‘strategy’ (it hardly seems worthy of the word, but  there you go). Hewson, who was badly burnt in the 1993 un-losable election because he released his policy details sees that as a watershed moment when politicians realised that the electorate is easily scared and if you have policies, you’re better off not telling the electorate during election campaigns. We only have our selves to blame, reasoned Hewson.

You gotta hand it to old John Hewson. He did lose in 1993 well and good and thank bloody goodness for that. Aah, memories of Paul Keating’s “greatest victory of them all”.

I’d have to say while it sounds like some kind of causal link to the state of affairs today, I don’t think Hewson is right in drawing universals from his failed campaign. And all the same, it’s still unprincipled for Tony Abbott to be withholding his costings given that he’s been banging on about government debt and waste for the better part of 3 years and 9 months. Sure it didn’t work for John Hewson, but nobody remembers Hewson as a fraudulent politician. He’s accorded that much respect, which is why he gets asked by the media to commentate.

Tony Abbott on the other hand is firmly working with this notion that he won’t let us know what he’s going to cut to make his dumb figures fit. It’s game, it’s got chutzpah, but it’s an utter lie to suggest that this is anything but deceitful. And you know, this is the same simpleton that spent the last 3years banging on about the Carbon tax being some kind of deception by the ALP when in fact anybody with a brain understood that it was the price the ALP had to pay to form Government with the Greens. characterising at as a deception as Tony Abbott has done for the last 3 years must be one of the biggest con jobs in Australian political history – what little of it there is. So as it is with the completely cockamamie ‘Abbonomics’ or ‘Hockeynomics’ or whatever austerity-tinged idiocy they plan on bringing in, you have this layer of Orwellian lies to keep it all greasy so it goes down easy with the gullible electorate.

If this man wins this Saturday, I guess Australia has got everything that’s coming to it. Good Grief.

Then There’s Gay Marriage

While I’m on this wicket of calling out Tony Abbott and his indecent sense of politics, I want to point out that his defiant “people know where I stand” remark gave me the shits today. I know he’s a social convservative, a Catholic, an ethical midget and a moral munchkin from long ago but really Tony Abbott is copping out from answering why he holds to these socially conservative, Catholic views (views contradicted by the current Pope no less), and why there’s anything good with keeping gay people from having the marriage rights.

I’m not the biggest advocate of Gay Marriage rights. I just quietly support it from the side. Mainly because on a personal moral scale, I’m a libertarian at heart. I don’t think it’s the business of the state to dictate who can form marriage unions with other human beings given what we know of humanity and sexuality and psychology and history. If Tony Abbott is really going to be a standard bearer for these ‘conservative values’, he really ought to man up and spell out why exactly he thinks it’s in the state’s interest to say no to Gay Marriage. Just something that shows his moral reasoning on this is something beyond “because God says it’s wrong according to the Pope.”

What’s Really Going To Piss Me Off About An Abbott Government

I’ll be honest here. What’s really going to piss me off about an Abbott government is how he’s going to sell us this crappy substitute for the NBN. His promise is that the people who’ve already got it can keep it, but the roll out will stop. So if you wanted the NBN, but if it hasn’t rolled out to your area, then stiff shit you’re not going to get it.

I just don’t see how this is even remotely fair or as politicians like to say equitable. To use the Liberal Party’s own logic on this, quite frankly, I paid my taxes, I expect to be treated equally under the law. I don’t see how it is going to be equal for some part of Australia to have 100mbps bandwidth and other parts 10mbps bandwidth just because Tony Abbott says 10mbps should be enough.

Let me put this to you all another way. As good as it sounds, 100mbps only gets us to the level playing field of average around the globe. Google recently trialled 1000mbps =1 Giga-bits-per-second  in Kansas city. 1 Giga Bits Per Second is 100 times faster than what Tony Abbott thinks is ‘enough’. One Hundred Times!!!!

Google put in this network for free, and suddenly all these companies were starting up in Kansas City, trying to take advantage of this speed. Even if Australia got the NBN at 100mbps, it’s still only 1/10th the speed of Google’s 1Ggbps network in Kansas City; and clearly, there’s a well-established correlation between high tech industry growth and internet speed. There’s a tech boom in Kansas City just because Google put in this network. As the ghosts whispered to Kevin Costner in ‘Field of Dreams’, “build it and they will come”.

This is a huge issue if Australia wants to become the financial hub in the Pacific rim. This is a huge issue if Australia wants to move on into the post-mining boom period, looking for next areas of growth. This is a huge issue if we want to have technological relevance and industries that can deliver in a post-industrial economy. We can’t just be mediocre at this stuff, we have to be good to great. And all these things are challenges the RBA and the current ALP Federal Government understand. Does Tony? (Rhetorical. Obviously the answer is ‘no’. *facepalm*)

Thus I find it incredibly hard to stomach the fact that Tony Abbott’s Liberal Party claims to be pro-business but is in fact 3 buckets of Luddite and a sack of stupid when it comes to its internet policy. It’s not surprising given their idiotic stance on climate change, but that is another issue. Yes, I’m pissed off about this more than just about any other aspect of their idiotic, as-yet-un-costed policy platform, and by extension I’m very angry at a middle Australia who want to vote in this lot. As Homer Simpson once asked the Guru on top of the mountains, “I mean, really? Really, really? Really, really, really?”

Seriously folks, if there’s one – and only one – point of differentiation that matters to the future of the Australian industrial landscape, it’s the NBN. Not the Carbon Tax, not Gay Marriage, not Industrial relations and not even the possible hiking of the GST. It’s the NBN.

So save the NBN: Don’t vote for the Libs. Everything else is either slamming the gate after the horse has bolted or fighting the tide of history. The NBN. Remember that when you go to the poll booths.

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News That’s Fit To Punt – 26/Aug/2013

Mr. Rabbit On The Loose

I guess I’m not the only person a little perturbed by the polls suggesting a win by the Coalition on the 7th. Pleiades sent in this link that pretty much sums up the consternation:

The electoral atmosphere is surreal. We have a government on the back foot over its economic record – which has been outstanding when the global economic environment is taken into account.

And we have an opposition that appears to have successfully undermined the government’s credibility, based on the government’s record of fiscal debt and deficit, which has, in fact, been the foundation of the nation’s success in avoiding the global financial crisis.

The Coalition tactic recalls the 1996 election. At every outdoor political event the opposition’s debt truck would be lurking in the background, showing Australia’s foreign debt ticking over at an alarming rate. Immediately after the election the truck was put way, never to be seen again. Nor was any policy – serious or otherwise – advanced by the Howard government to reverse this alarming growth in debt.

So it will be this time unless Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are silly enough in office to ride roughshod over their advisers in Treasury, Finance and the Reserve Bank and impose austerity policies involving massive cuts in government spending. Such policies have proved spectacularly unsuccessful elsewhere in reducing deficits or unemployment.

The article goes on to say that climate policy is getting short shrift as a result of the major parties dumbing down their pitch. Well, climate policy itself is in danger of being obliterated if an Abbott-led Coalition wins. I’m a little surprised that the swinging voters who voted in Kevin Rudd with a mandate to put in an ETS, then turned on him when he couldn’t get a deal in Copenhagen and decided to kick the can down, are now seriously contemplating voting in Tony Abbott who is clearly on record as a Climate Change Denier. I mean, really? Is that where we’re headed?

But That’s Not All! There’s The Boats!

Here’s another one from Pleaides… Out in Jakarta, they’re a little alarmed that we’re about to vote in Tony Abbott with his turn back the boats slogans.

The Australian opposition’s plan to disburse millions of dollars to Indonesian fishermen, which is partly to stem the flow of asylum seekers, is an insult to Indonesia as a nation, an international affairs expert has said.

Hikmahanto Juwana of the University of Indonesia criticized the plan and called it “humiliating” because it made Indonesian fishermen just “look like mercenaries who did dirty jobs.”

“I think the government should voice protests to the coalition’s very insensitive plan which clearly shows their poor knowledge about the situation in Indonesia,” he said in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post over the weekend.

The Australia’s opposition coalition has unveiled its plan for more regional action to stop people smuggling, pledging A$420 million for policy measures that include paying Indonesian villagers for information about smugglers and buying unseaworthy boats, according to Australian media.

When you spell it out like that, why yes, it is patronising and  reeks of Colonialist Paternalism. Of course Tony Abbott would be tone deaf (pardon the pun) to such sensitivities.  Though, it gets me that in this day and age that a leading politician from Australia basically has this kind of witheringly contemptuous outlook on Indonesia. How the hell is he going to get Indonesia to play ball with his idiotic plan if he’s already starting on the “you’re bunch of money-grubbing yokels” foot.

Not to mention that fact that the Coalition is going to do this on taxpayers’ money having harangued the ALP government about bad management of funds. I guess that’s Chutzpah for you.

The ALP’s Just Losin’ It All By Themselves

I’m sort of detached from the daily coverage of this election because a) I’ve made up my mind I’m not voting for Tony Abbott and the Coalition and; b) I hate being lied to so brazenly and c) I’m satisfied Julia Gillard isn’t part of the equation; I’m happy not to go into the nitty-gritty of what’s being said. Occasionally Clive Palmer makes me laugh with his handout of DVDs that has a bonus video of him wanting to make the Titanic II with people referring to him as “Professor Palmer”. Yes, it’s side-splittingly funny – so much so that I laughed so hard I hurt my intercostal muscles.

So it takes me by surprise that the ALP is doing so badly in the polls. What drugs are people on? Peter Hartcher’s explanation is that Tony Abbott hasn’t changed one bit; it’s the ALP that’s just going about losing support.

But most politically telling was the fact that Abbott’s big speech was substantially the same one he gave on the same Brisbane stage at the same event three years ago. This conveys four central realities of Australian politics.

First, it tells us that this election is a case where the opposition is not winning, but where the government is losing. Australia is not rushing gleefully to embrace Abbott’s Coalition but is instead rejecting Kevin Rudd and Labor.

You can tell because the main difference between the Abbott pitch of three years ago and his pitch on Sunday is that last time he wasn’t winning the election campaign, and this time he is. Abbott is standing in the same place. The electorate is moving to him, not the other way around.

Second, it tells us that Abbott’s Coalition has held its nerve, an unusual thing in a high-stakes contest. Instead of seeking to ingratiate itself by offering new goodies, the Liberal leader announced no new billion-dollar bonanzas, only some modest new help for apprentices, self-funded retirees and dementia research.

While John Howard’s campaign launches were laden with billion-dollar offerings, the only billions in Abbott’s speech were references to Labor deficits.

Third, this also tells us something about Australia. Abbott is appealing to a country disillusioned with politicians and their promises. The only credible promises are modest ones.

Abbott explicitly warns Australia ”don’t expect miracles”. A Coalition government would ”respect the limits of government as well as its potential”.

At core, Abbott’s promise is limited to uprooting much of Labor’s legacy, while preserving work on a national disability insurance scheme and enlarging Australia’s parental leave scheme.

Fourth, Abbott continues conspicuously to avoid the great, glaring problem at the centre of his policy structure: his budget. It was a mess at the last election, and remains unsolved to this day.

Be patient, and wait another week, the Liberals tell us.

What a joke, and we’re falling for it like the fascists we are.

I’ve been thinking a bit about this and I imagine that there are basically a lot of old baby boomers who are unhappy with being shackled with the carbon pricing in their old age, translating into higher power bills when they don’t even believe climate change. One also imagines a lot of Gen X people who are neck deep in mortgage hell wanting to punish the ALP government for the GFC and its aftermath. And I can well imagine there are quite a few misguided Gen Y types who -being Gen Y – want a laissez faire arrangement and they don’t care how much they pay for their education. I meet these types now and then and it always strikes me that democracy is wasted on the free world. They have the vote; the right to vote in a free country in the first world and they want to waste it on a sloganeering blowhard.

Of all the things people could do, the worst thing would be to vote for Tony Abbott’s coalition.  His government is not going to do anything but widen the gap between the wealthy and the poor and make us an even more hateful, self-possessed, mean-spirited country. He will be a Prime Minster you’d be ashamed to show anybody. But then, he did learn from the master of that sort of thing in John Howard.

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I Want This To Stop

How About You Howard Sattler? Are You Gay? Do You Fuck Pigs Perhaps?

Good heavens. Why on earth does the Prime Minister of Australia have to answer questions like these?:

Howard Sattler offered the Prime Minister a chance to dispel ‘‘myths, rumours, snide jokes and innuendo’’ at the tail-end of a digressive interview on Fairfax-owned station 6PR this afternoon Perth time.

‘‘Tim’s gay,’’ was the first rumour Mr Sattler raised.

‘‘Well, that’s absurd,’’ the Prime Minister’s replied flatly.

‘‘But you hear it – he must be gay, he’s a hairdresser,’’ Mr Sattler said. ‘‘It’s not me saying it.’’

The Prime Minister dismissed the suggestion. But Mr Sattler pressed the point.

“You can confirm that he’s not?” he asked.

‘‘Oh Howard don’t be ridiculous, of course not,’’ the Prime Minister said, while remaining cool and composed. ‘‘On the internet there are lots of […] nutjobs, people who peddle and circulate vile things’’.

“Howard let me just bring you back to earth, you and I have just talked about me and Tim living at the lodge, we live there together as a couple, you know that.”

I never would’ve imagined we’d come to this. Nobody asks if Tony Abbott or Malcolm Turnbull or Joe Hockey or Warren Truss or Barnaby Joyce or Mal Brough if their spouses are gay, let alone press the point like there’s any kind of doubt about their sexuality. Nobody ever asked if Janette Howard was John Howard’s beard. Nobody is ever going to ask Tony Abbott if his wife is a lesbian or whether he can really prove if he procreated his children by having sex with his spouse. Just writing that last sentence fills me with revulsion because it is revolting – so why in the hell is it fair game to be asking these kinds of questions to our Prime Minister? Why does a prurient, venal maggot like this guy even have a job doing interviews?

If the next 90-odd days until 14 September are going to go like this, and stay as pathetic as this, I think I want to holiday somewhere far away from Australia until all this is over. As for Howard Sattler, I hope a Great White Shark takes him.

UPDATE: Howard Sattler has been sacked.

Radio 6PR General Manager Martin Boylen has confirmed presenter Howard Sattler has been sacked, following his controversial interview with Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday.

In a statement read on air late afternoon (AEST) the Perth radio station apologised “unreservedly” for allowing questions about the sexuality of Ms Gillard’s partner, Tim Mathieson, to be raised by Sattler on his Drive program.

“In the wake of yesterday’s interview, Radio 6PR suspended Mr Sattler from Broadcasting pending a review of the matter today,” the statement said. “The station has now decided to terminate Mr Sattler’s engagement.”

That is as it should be.

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Warriors Past

Restoration Of What Exactly?

Before I get into today’s entry, I just want to say I can’t stand the right wing nationalists in Japan. They drive around town in their black vans blaring their slogans and World War II era tunes that sound *terrible* through the megaphone speakers mounted on the roof. They create a commotion on crowded streets and really at their core, they’re just nothing but nostalgists in denial.

So, when 80 year old Shintaro Ishihara goes into a national election in Japan forming a team with the Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto and his Japan Restoration party, one can’t help but get a little suspicious of this so-called third force in politics. Indeed, in most modern (and post-modern and post-post-modern) democracies, the experience has been that the third force is invariably fascist, and conservatives are always conned into thinking fascists are the better allies than the old adversary, the progressives.

That’s how Hitler and the Nazis snuck by the deteriorating Hindenburg, and brought about the end of the Weimar Republic. I dare say the rise of the Tea Party on the back of sloganeering idiocy of the likes of Sarah Palin tells you just enough that there really isn’t much of a difference between the methods of the Nazis and the Tea Party. History tells us the third force is a collection of crackpots trying to disrupt the orthodoxy of the polity for its radical agenda.

In Shintaro Ishihara, we can see a man who is nostalgic for the kind of Japan that was a military power in the first half of the Twentieth Century, and it’s an uncomfortable sort of nostalgia because it means he has to line up with those morons in the black vans and their megaphones. Any person with a modicum of sanity and good sense would stay away from that mob, but alas no, Ishihara wants to get  third party going with the express hope of confronting Communist China.

This bring me to this column by Peter Hartcher today.

Hashimoto and Ishihara are taking advantage of a growing disenchantment among Japan’s voters with either of the major parties. But China, through its nationalist assertiveness, might be providing them with a new purpose and platform.

It would be a profound historical blunder if Beijing’s decision to energise and enlarge its territorial claims turns out to have not only alarmed its neighbours and reinvigorated US commitment to the region – it has already managed to achieve these unintended consequences – but to have remilitarised its historical enemy Japan as well.

The Japanese people favour their current constitution and oppose nuclear armament. But China is giving the neonationalists an opening and they are taking it.

In the 1980s, the first prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, once counselled against then-prevalent 1980s complaints against Japan’s commercial success.

”The Japanese are good merchants but they are better warriors,” he said. And he didn’t think Japan’s underlying warrior prowess was dead, only dormant. China should be careful it does not push its neighbours too far.

Those ghosts of the warriors are never too far away; and if you are Japanese, there’s something deathly compelling about some of the symbols.

Why, even today in the Sankei Newspaper, they are celebrating the last ‘operational’  Zero Fighter.

It’s exactly the kind of symbolism that stirs the hearts of nostalgists. I should know – it stirs something in me! And I’m not a nationalist – but I am a historian.

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